I recently attended a juicing workshop at one of my favourite stores for natural beauty products – Neal’s Yard Remedies. A girlfriend invited me along and although I wasn’t really interested in juicing, I thought it would be a fun way to catch up. I had tried daily smoothies in the past but with my IBS, I just found them too hard on my stomach. I assumed juices would have the same effect so immediately dismissed them. However, ignoring this juice trend is becoming a difficult task given the abundance of cold-pressed juiceries sprouting up monthly in our city. So I decided to go into the workshop with an open mind.
The workshop was hosted by a local neighbourhood juice bar. The first thing that peaked my interest was that one of the founders said that she got into juicing because her husband had IBS and that juices seemed to agree with him. A holistic nutritionist explained that extracting the insoluble fibre from fruits and vegetables allows your body to take advantage of the healing properties of plants without having to work hard digesting all the roughage. Unlike simply blending fruits and vegetables together, juicing removes the insoluble fibre, allowing the body to more quickly and easily absorb and assimilate the nutrients. This got me thinking that perhaps juicing is a way for IBS sufferers to supply our bodies with plenty of vitamins and minerals without having an “irritable” reaction to the insoluble fibre.
Those of us who have IBS often have very limited diets because many foods are too fibrous or have too much fructose for us to digest (i.e. high FODMAP foods). The consequence is that we end up avoiding many of the fruits and vegetables that our body needs to fight off infections, strengthen our bones, grow healthy hair and nails, keep our organs healthy, promote growth of good bacteria in the bowel and even remain mentally stable. This is exactly why the low FODMAP diet is not a lifetime diet and why re-introducing certain foods is extremely important. Consuming high FODMAP foods in moderation helps to provide our bodies with nutrients that it doesn’t normally get.
For example, I do not eat apples due to the havoc they wreak on my digestion. However, apples are packed full of antioxidants, soluble fibre and potassium; nutrients I know are all good for my body. After attending the juicing workshop, I wondered if juicing some of my trigger foods would help me to digest them. And sure enough, it worked. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been able to incorporate apples, beets and pears into my diet. I just make sure to only include one high FODMAP food with the remainder of juice ingredients being low in FODMAPs. Juicing allows me to incorporate some high FODMAP foods that I wouldn’t normally be able to eat in their raw form.
If you have IBS and are going to try juicing, I would recommend starting slow. Use only a few vegetables and fruits at a time, perhaps choosing only those that are low in FODMAPs to start. Also, try to include digestion-friendly vegetables and herbs. Ginger is a digestive superfood great for stimulating healthy digestion. It soothes the stomach and helps the body digest everything properly. Adding a small handful of fresh mint leaves can also aid digestion by relaxing the muscular lining of the digestive tract, relieving cramps and gas, and alleviating indigestion.
Below is my favourite green juice recipe. But you don’t need a recipe to juice, get creative! I like to add a squeeze of lime to the finished product to stimulate digestion and give it an extra kick. Or try adding a pinch of sea salt for extra trace minerals. Buy organic where possible and scrub everything before juicing. I now have a green juice every morning before breakfast for an energy boost.
- ½ cup filtered water
- 1 large cucumber, chopped (about 10.5 oz)
- 1½ celery stalks, quartered (about 3 oz)
- 2 large apples, seeded and quartered
- 2 cups loosely packed kale leaves
- 1 inch (2.5 cm) square piece ginger root
- Place all ingredients into Vitamix (or other high-speed blender) in the order listed and secure lid.
- Select Variable 1.
- Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
- Blend for 30-45 seconds, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.
- Strain through a nut milk bag. Store in refrigerator. Use within 2 days.